CONTENT WARNING: This post contains details of violence against children, which some readers may find distressing.
A mother who admitted suffocating her 15-month-old daughter before throwing her body into a suburban Melbourne creek will be released from custody.
Sofina Nikat, 24, was on Thursday sentenced to a 12-month community correction order after earlier pleading guilty to infanticide over the April 2016 death of her daughter Sanaya Sahib.
“In the unusual circumstances you have already served 529 days of pre-sentence custody,” Victorian Supreme Court Justice Lex Lasry said.
According to ABC, Zahraa Sahib, the baby girl’s aunt, said outside court the family had “no justice for her [Sanaya’s] death”.
“We were expecting something and it just completely failed us, and I don’t think it’s very fair that we’ve lost our little girl and there’s nothing for her.
“It’s really disappointing, upsetting for our family.”
Initially when the baby had died, police and the local community were on the hunt for a man the 23-year-old described as 180cm tall, of African appearance, barefoot and reeking of alcohol. This man, Nikat claimed, had knocked her to the ground, snatched Sanaya and fled.
But then came Nikat’s confession to police. She said she’d placed her hand over her little girl’s mouth and nose, smothering her until she went limp, then tossed her into Darebin Creek. It was there, 17 hours later, that locals found Sanaya’s body, partially submerged in the water.
Despite Nikat’s admission, the Melbourne mother pleaded not guilty to murder in March. The charge was downgraded to infanticide, which Nikat pleaded guilty for in September.
According to a police summary released by the court, Nikat was struggling to cope with caring for Sanaya, and had told her cousin she wanted to kill herself and her daughter. The summary also stated that a Fijian imam had told her the toddler was possessed by an “evil spirit” – a claim she believed.